With the right kind of investment, we can compete with the very best in athletics
I recently wrote in this column that there was very serious work going on in local athletics.
There are lots of deliverables to prove that what was for long considered a one-dimensional body is now growing into a holistic multi-event sport.
The times when the Uganda Athletics Federation was considered as a body for merely long-distance events are no more.
UAF is now taking the sprints and field events very seriously to an extent that records in these events are being broken in almost every meet.
This season alone eight sprint national records have been broken on the local circuit. At the weekend an amazing 15 meet records were broken at the TBAC Invitational Meet.
That nine of these records were in the sprints and field events is a signal of great things yet to come in a federation where for long, the sprints and field events were dead.
Even more encouraging about the weekend event was the fact that it was the brainchild of athletes.
UAF top brass and its technical team only came in to supplement in the organization. What better way to groom future leaders of the federation?
Even more encouraging, is the fact that for once, there is less bickering in the federation and more teamwork between the various stakeholders.
But it wouldn’t be fair to commend UAF alone and forget the other stakeholders. Institutions like Uganda Police, Prisons, Uganda Wildlife Authority, UPDF, Uganda Christian University and Ndejje University and Arua Athletics Club have consistently invested in the sport.
But a lot can still be done. For instance, the government should also play its part in development. The high altitude facility in Teryet is taking too long. The day the facility is completed expect an even bigger boost in the performance of our athletes.
The government should also invest in countrywide centres of excellence. Regions like the north and east are bursting with untapped talent particularly in the sprints and field events.
Areas like the Rwenzori region should also be taken seriously in the long distances. So why not post and pay specialised coaches in these areas?
Then the Namboole track is also too old. It is time the ministry thought of replacing it with a modern Mondo track. This will not only limit injuries but also boost performance.
If the government can inject millions of dollars in football, which has little to show in achievement, why not invest even more in a sport like athletics which has a much-proven record in results.
So, much as UAF is on the right track, there is a need for a concerted effort with stakeholders like government also increasing their stake, if the sport is to rise to the next level.
With the right kind of investment, we can compete with the very best in athletics.